Take Action: Refugee Rights

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Take Action: Refugee Rights

Thanks for Taking Action! 

While the Canadian government prepared to determine the number of immigrants and refugees to admit in 2018, you joined your voice with CPJ and the Centre for Public Dialogue to encourage leaders to do so with compassion. Thanks to you, our joint action let Members of Parliament know that refugees are welcome in our communities.

Along with the Canadian Council for Refugees, we continue to ask that the government commit to bring in 20,000 Government-Assisted Refugees (GARs) on an annual basis. Related specifically to CPJ’s "A Half Welcome" report, we're calling for reduced barriers to the private sponsorship system.

Earlier this year, the government committed to clear the backlog of private sponsorship requests by 2019. As citizens, it’s essential that we continue to hold them accountable to this commitment, in order to reduce wait times and accelerate the process of relocation for those who need it most. Together, we're letting our leaders know that Canadian citizens want to see efficient and generous refugee resettlement in Canada. 

A Half Welcome: Advocacy Package

CPJ conducted a survey of Sponsorship Agreement Holders in Canada, to determine the policy challenges necessary to improve their sponsorship work. The results of this survey formed the basis of CPJ’s new report, “A Half Welcome: Delays, Limits, and Inequities in Canadian Refugee Sponsorship.”

Four main challenges emerged from SAHs’ responses. Of the SAHs we polled, about 97% raised concerns about how long it takes to process applications. What’s more, 94% of SAHs expressed overall concern with the long processing times for non-Syrian cases, while 88% found current allocation limits to be troubling for private sponsorship today. Lastly, about 75% of SAHs are concerned with the travel loans refugees must repay upon resettlement in Canada. 

We have developed this advocacy resource to assist anyone who would like to learn how to advocate on refugee issues in ways that bring about meaningful change. The package provides advocacy tactics and information centred around the four issues raised in CPJ's report. However, it can be used to advocate on other refugee-related issues (such as the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement and the challenges it poses for refugees and refugee claimants).

Advocacy is integral to social and political change. CPJ believes that Canadians have a responsibility to support members of society who cannot speak for themselves. 

We have organized the advocacy resource into sizeable pieces. You can select any section you may need at any time out of the package.

1. Introduction: Why Advocacy?

Each of us has role to play in our own communities to support refugees.

  • Join or support refugee sponsorship groups in your local church or community.
  • Check out the Canadian Council for Refugees and learn about their campaigns.

As we call for justice for refugees, it is critical that we understand how best to make our message impactful.

Learn more: Advocacy for Refugees (PDF)

2. Doing Research 

You can become more knowledgeable on refugee issues in Canada through CPJ's advocacy and research work.

  • Read CPJ's report on private sponsorship challenges in Canada. A Half Welcome provides information on major policy challenges to private sponsorship - wait times for submitted applications, allocation limits, and the travel loans program.   
  • Read CPJ's policy statements on refugee issues to keep informed on CPJ's position and recommendations on refugee policy.
  • Learn about the ongoing legal challenge to the STCA.

Learn more: Doing Research (PDF).

3. Formulating Objectives

Once you have completed research on the topic, you can begin to develop the focus and objectives of your advocacy efforts. 

Learn more: Formulating Objectives (PDF)

4. Choosing Tactics

The most effective advocacy strategy uses a variety of methods—or tactics. CPJ has provided a breakdown of the different tactics you can use.

Learn more: Choosing Tactics (PDF)

5. Forming Relationships with Policy-Makers

You will need to develop relationships with policy officials and parliamentarians (such as your Member of Parliament). Find a list of ways to develop relationships with policy-makers.

Learn more: Forming Relationships with Policy-Makers (PDF)

6. Calling your MP

In many cases, it may be useful to give your Member of Parliament's office a call to express your position on the issues you're concerned with. This is sometimes more direct than writing a letter would be.

Learn more: Calling your MP (PDF)

7. Meeting with your MP

You can also visit your Member of Parliament to discuss your concerns.  Find more information on preparation for the meeting, what to do at the meeting, and how to follow up after you have met with your MP.

Learn more: Meeting with your MP (PDF)

8. Sample Letter

Write to Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Ahmed Hussen(link sends e-mail), asking him to:

  •  take action on the issues raised in A Half Welcome.
  • review the Safe Third Country Agreement, in light of recent refugee inflows into Canada, and the legal challenge launched by the Canadian Council of Churches, Amnesty International, and the Canadian Council for Refugees. For an example, read CPJ's letter to the Minister.

CPJ has also drafted a sample letter you can modify to suit your areas of concern. This document provides information on what style of writing is best suited for correspondence with MPs.

Sample letter: PDF | Word Doc

9. Sample One Page Brief

You can also write a one-page brief to communicate with MPs, media outlets, and others. The brief summarizes the problem, the background information, and the solutions you propose. CPJ has drafted a sample one-page brief on the four main concerns A Half Welcome raises. 

Sample brief: PDF | Word Doc

Photo Credit: Takver/Flickr

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